philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Cannes Film Festival Plots Major Expansion to VR Program

cannes-vrCannes XR, the Marché du Film’s program dedicated to immersive and augmented reality content, is set to expand.

For its second edition, Cannes XR has partnered with tech creator Positron and Brogent Technologies to introduce a new VR theater, dedicated space and competition.

While keeping its 700-square meter exhibition space in the basement of Cannes’ Palais des Festivals, the program will also set up a second front at The Palm Beach, a former casino on the other side of the Croisette. The venue will offer 1600 square meters of exhibition space, as well as outdoor reception areas with a beachfront view.

Reachable by shuttles from the Palais, the new space will also house a series of conferences and development showcases, as well as a multi-seat theater equipped with Positron’s patented Voyager VR chairs, which are full-motion platforms designed to showcase cinematic VR.

Instead, Cannes XR has positioned itself as an accelerator and development lab for promising projects that could shape the market in years to come.

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Robosen Robotics (Shenzen) Showcases T9 at Toy Fair New York – The World’s Most Advanced and Programmable Robot

[PhilNote: For $499 you can own and program a Transformer.]

Robosen Robotics' visionary craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology in artificial joint driving algorithms and digital electric drive technology, provide T9's artificial intelligence (AI) - Easy to remember voice commands, complex animations completed with precision control, captivating dance performances and innovative stunts.

These animations are created and customized with three intuitive and easy-to-use programming platforms (Manual, Visual and 3D Graphics*) and T9's massive storage has enough memory to store tens of thousands of them.

*A summary of each of three programming platforms:

  • Manual Programming: Unleash the fun and your creative ideas by manually programming the T9's actions by hand. Manual programming is easy to execute and turns playtime into an opportunity to enhance thoughtful and logic-based thinking skills.
  • Visual Programming: Converting obscure and sophisticated programming codes into simple and easy-to-understand graphical blocks. Simply drag and drop blocks together to program the T9 to act out your creations. Visual Programming is based on Scratch, a programming language developed by MIT Media Lab and used by millions of people around the world.
  • 3D Graphic Programming: Take imagination and inspiration to the next level by programming the T9 via PC. 3D Graphic Programming allows the user to create more complex, precise and interactive moments.

World’s First 5G Forest Set Up with Technology-Friendly Features

a4-1-e1582305908244-1536x795The world’s first 5G forest is being built in Sherwood Forest, located in Nottinghamshire, England. In the 5G forest to be built in Nottinghamshire, people will enjoy nature with augmented reality and autonomous vehicles thanks to the 5G connection.

With the project, which will be implemented with a total budget of 10 million pounds, people will be able to experience the forest with augmented reality applications and autonomous vehicles using the 5G network.

In the 5G forest project to be performed in Sherwood Forest, people will be able to benefit from the virtual reality experience, including the famous novel hero Robin Hood.

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HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Immersive Media Challenge Explained

February 20, 2020

ETC’s immersive media head Phil Lelyveld presented a session describing the organization’s third Immersive Media Challenge — this one with a 5G twist. “The challenge is to ask students and recent graduates to come up with an idea for an engaging experience that is impossible to build now that should be possible to build in three to five years,” he said. “It’s not a hackathon. If you can build it in three to five years, you should probably start building it now. If it’s longer than five years, it’s Fantasyland.”

Lelyveld said that he asks potential entrants to consider what happens when technology catches up to an idea that resonates with people, giving Facebook, “Fortnite,” global K-Pop, and eSports as examples. He also asks them to think about what happens when an idea out of the blue — like the iPhone or digital influencers — is suddenly possible.

Entrants can come up with an idea that falls under four categories: City Play (city as location-based entertainment); For Good (social good, education); For Fun (dramatic, but with a twist that advances the art form) or For Health (medical resource for doctor or patient). Given the imminence of 5G, added Lelyveld, he also asks potential entrants to consider how their idea will be impacted by unlimited bandwidth and near-zero latency.

Students/recent graduates have to answer a six-question sequence and create a three-minute pitch video. “Narrative excellence about the idea matters,” explained Lelyveld. The six questions include the title of the idea; a detailed description of the experience; what the creator is trying to achieve, which of the four categories it fits into and why it’s worthwhile; why the experience will capture the imagination of audiences; what about the idea is unique and/or different from others available; what about the idea will make it likely to be able to created in three to five years and how the 5G rollout impact the idea; and, lastly, why the assumptions are reasonable.

“Why is it Tomorrowland and not Fantasyland,” noted Lelyveld, who added that students and recent grads who submit to the program come out of varied academic backgrounds, including cinema, architecture, business, engineering and journalism.

Lelyveld explained that students have one week to come up with the idea and ETC member companies can decide whether they want to mentor one of the projects. With more than 50 ideas generated from three challenges, Lelyveld said ETC is “looking for mentors, resources and sponsors to spur new thinking.”

He also played the pitch videos for two projects that were chosen. USC Marshall School of Business MBA student Tucker Elliott pitched Flight of Persephone, which creates AI-enabled reuseable escape rooms. Engineering student Tracy Keys proposed AuVive, contextualized descriptive audio for video for the visually impaired, relying on deep learning and neural net narration. Creators of the four chosen ideas get money to create a previsualization and are paired with ETC member industry mentors.

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Kickstarter unionizes

The decision, which was formalized by a vote count at the National Labor Relations Board, came down to a narrow margin, with 46 employees voting in favor of the move and 37 opposing it. The debate over a union — and whether such representation was appropriate for highly paid tech workers — had been a source of tension at the company for many months.

The pro-union vote is significant for the technology industry, where workers have become increasingly activist in recent years over issues as varied as sexual harassment and climate change. Behemoth companies such as Google and Amazon have struggled to get a handle on their employees, who have staged walkouts and demanded that their companies not work with government entitiesand others.

Veena Dubal, an associate professor of employment law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, called the Kickstarter vote “a hugely important step” that “signals to workers across the tech industry that it is both desirable and possible to build collective structures to influence wages, working conditions and even business decisions.”

Kickstarter’s employees will be affiliated with the Office and Professional Employees International Union and begin negotiating a contract with management over equal pay and inclusive hiring practices. The bargaining committee will include employees who opposed the union as well as those who supported it.

The privately held company, which is based in Brooklyn and has 145 employees, has long positioned itself as altruistic. In 2015, it reincorporated as a public benefit corporation, meaning it also focused on providing a benefit to society rather than merely on generating profits for shareholders.

Its employees’ unionization drive began in earnest last year, after Kickstarter found itself embroiled in a debate over whether to cancel a fund-raising effort on its site for a comic book that included images of people punching Nazis. Workers pushed the company to allow the project to continue, which it did. The episode sparked discussions among employees about formalizing their voice in the workplace.

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A Fed Governor And Watchdog Boss Made A Serious Bitcoin And Crypto Warning

960x0-3Many governments and central banks around the world have expressed concerns that Facebook's libra, a so-called stablecoin that will be pegged to a basket of traditional currencies, could undermine state control of economies if it becomes a widely used payment method.

"Financial Stability Board members recognize the speed of innovation in the area of digital payments, including so-called 'stablecoins," Quarles said, referring to Facebook's planned libra cryptocurrency, scheduled for launch later this year and aimed at bringing digital finance to the developing world. "We are resolved to quicken the pace of developing the necessary regulatory and supervisory responses to these new instruments."

Earlier this week, the U.S. admitted bitcoin and cryptocurrency could undermine the dollar's status as the world’s reserve currency and the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence is looking for two researchers to evaluate the impact of the U.S. dollar losing its status as the world reserve currency.

Last year, U.S. president Donald Trump slammed bitcoin as based on "thin air," following Facebook's announcement it will launch libra in 2020, while his Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin branded bitcoin a "national security threat."

Meanwhile, calls for the U.S. to begin development of a so-called digital dollar have been growing louder over recent months.

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This Virtual Reality Exhibit Brings Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech to Life

mlk_cover“The March” features around 25 to 30 minutes of education, immersive realism and reflection. First, visitors enter a “sound bath” spatial audio experience where they hear from the likes of Rosa Park’s attorney Fred Gray; Freedom Rider Henry “Hank” James Thomas; and Reverend Gwendolyn Cook Webb, a participant in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Then, they are transported to the heart of the 1963 march, becoming a member of the crowd fighting for racial equality and a witness to one of the greatest speeches in United States history. Viola Davis, actress and executive producer of “The March,” serves as participants’ narrator, guiding them through the VR exhibit.

After exiting the virtual world, visitors can reflect on their experience by “speaking” with Joyce Ladner, an organizer and activist who attended the March on Washington, via an artificial intelligence interview portal. In total, says Tramz, Ladner recorded around eight hours’ worth of dialogue.

More than 200 people from seven different companies collaborated to virtually render the events of 1963, according to Tramz. Digital Domain, a visual effects and production company known for its work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Titanic and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, built the groundbreaking digital recreation of King and the surrounding scene. Using a custom-built wireless headset that renders King in real time, visitors will be able to walk around the famous activist and observe him up close as he gives his speech.

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Wharton Launches Online Course on AI for Business

Based on the best-selling book, A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence, by acclaimed Wharton professor Kartik Hosanagar, the Artificial Intelligence for Business program is designed to provide learners with insights into both established and emerging developments in AI, Big Data, Machine Learning, and the operational changes AI will bring. The lessons within this course are applicable to multiple industries and dynamic markets.

This four-week program takes approximately eight hours to complete, is available directly from Wharton Online for $599, and is open for enrollment beginning today. Learners will receive a digital certificate and badge upon completion, which is also eligible for continuing education credit.

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Nutanix Teams Up with Caesars Entertainment and UNLV to Power Black Fire Innovation Hub

Nutanix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTNX), a leader in enterprise cloud computing, announced today that it has teamed up with Caesars Entertainment and UNLV to power "Black Fire Innovation," a hub where new gaming and hospitality concepts will be created and tested, to accelerate technology advancement in the gaming and entertainment industry.

"Black Fire will serve as a hub for technology innovation in our industry, and for that, we need a platform for accelerating time to value and delivering the performance, availability, and simplified management that’s critical to our success," said Salil Kulkarni, EVP & Interim Chief Information Officer of Caesars Entertainment. "As a Nutanix customer, we knew the benefits their software could bring to this environment and decided to team up with them to power Black Fire."

Black Fire Innovation is a 43,000 square-foot space that includes elements of mock hotel rooms, a casino floor and sportsbook, an esports studio with arena-style seating and virtual reality facilities. This multipurpose space will allow UNLV, Caesars and partners to develop and test new concepts using a mock integrated resort environment. Black Fire Innovation brings industry leaders and disruptors together in one space to advance current trends in hospitality and gaming technology to propel the industry forward.

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Should Augmented Reality Technology Be Democratized? (spoiler – “Yes”)

Democratizing AR technology means that software development companies will make the technology available to all devices. This makes it more accessible for everyday use. As software development companies create AR apps that work on their own platforms, they can allow other platforms to license their software development kit (SDK). When AR technology is open to multiple platforms for developers and content creators, AR users can freely choose their preferred platform.

Another way to push boundaries is to allow everyone the access to the technology. We can provide the tools needed to create AR without any coding knowledge. For instance, AR creation apps that have drag-and-drop features enable users to create their own unique AR experiences. These types of apps increase mobility and ease of use. They also help build community engagement through digital technology.

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